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Although companies are increasingly embracing the sustainability discourse in their external reporting and disclosures, little is known about how management control…
Although companies are increasingly embracing the sustainability discourse in their external reporting and disclosures, little is known about how management control systems support sustainability within organizations. This is unfortunate, given the important role that properly designed Sustainability Control Systems (SCS) may play in helping firms to better face their social and environmental responsibilities. Starting from these premises, the aim of this essay is twofold. On the one hand, we present a review of the emerging stream of research on sustainability and management control mechanisms, in order to identify and discuss the link between the two. On the other hand, we try to illustrate the main unaddressed issues in this literature as a premise to exploring one possible way to advance research in this area. Specifically, we make a call for a more holistic approach to the study of SCS, which considers also their organizational and cultural dimensions in addition to their technical properties. A framework for informing future work on the topic is proposed, based on the concept of ‘control package’ (Malmi & Brown, 2008; Sandelin, 2008) complemented with notions from the complementarity-based approach developed in organizational economics (Grandori & Furnari, 2008; Milgrom & Roberts, 1995). By enhancing our understanding on how SCS operate as a package, the application of our framework should allow researchers to develop better theory of how to design a range of controls to support organizational sustainability objectives, control sustainability activities, and drive sustainability performance.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms adopted by cities to control the provision of externalized public services and to explore the determinants of…
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms adopted by cities to control the provision of externalized public services and to explore the determinants of such control choices.
The paper presents the results of a multiple case study based on the experiences of three cities and three public services (transport, solid waste collection and home care services for the elderly), where control mechanisms and their possible antecedents were analyzed.
The results show that the control models found in the cases analyzed do not correspond to the “pure” patterns described in the private sector literature and that the factors identified by management control contributions do not seem to be exhaustive in explaining the configuration of control systems in the public sector. While environmental and task characteristics only partially explain the adoption of certain configurations of control, the features of the control systems seem to be rather influenced by variables that are related to party characteristics.
The paper shows that the combinations of control mechanisms are more multifaceted than those presented in the literature, and that the factors identified in the private sector literature do not seem to explain comprehensively the configuration of control systems in the public sector.
Organisations produce effects that go beyond the economic framing within which they operate, referred to as overflows in this paper. When an organisation comes under…
Organisations produce effects that go beyond the economic framing within which they operate, referred to as overflows in this paper. When an organisation comes under pressure to address these overflows they must decide how to respond. Previous research has placed social and environmental reporting as an important tool organisations mobilise in their attempts to mediate these pressures and the groups that give rise to them. However, these reports are typically only released once a year while the pressures that organisations face can arise at any time and are ongoing and constant. The purpose of this paper is to explore situated organisational practices and examine if and how management controls are mobilised in relation to the actions of pressure groups.
This paper takes a case study approach to understand how an organisation attempts to mediate the pressures from a number of overflows: carbon emissions, changing lifestyles, aspartame and obesity. To undertake this research a performative understanding of management control is utilised. This focusses the research on if and how management controls are mobilised to assist with attempts to mediate pressures.
Analysis of the data shows that many different management controls, beyond just reports, were mobilised during the attempts to mediate the pressure arising from the actions of groups affected by the overflows. The management controls were utilised to: identify pressures, demonstrate how the pressure had been addressed, alleviate the pressure or to dispute the legitimacy of the pressure.
This paper shows the potential for new connections to be made between the management control and social and environmental accounting literatures. It demonstrates that future research may gain much from examining the management controls mobilised within the situated practices that constitute an organisations response to the pressures it faces.